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Swallows says COVID in schools relatively low

Director of Schools Grant Swallows joined County Executive Jimmy Haley’s weekly COVID-19 press conference Tuesday morning and opened by expressing grief regarding the death of Phillip Jordan Stevens.

“The Stevens family are a major part of our school system and I ask that you remember them in your thoughts and prayers. I also ask that if you are willing and able that you contribute to a fund that has been set up in the name of Aileen Stevens at First National Bank here in McMinnville,” said Swallows.

Jordan and Aileen were expecting their first child. Aileen teaches kindergarten at Hickory Creek, while Jordan’s mother, Michelle, teaches kindergarten at West Elementary.

“Please remember them in your thoughts and prayers in the days going forward,” Swallows said.

Swallows then updated COVID-19 numbers in Warren County Schools.

“As of yesterday we have 23 students in isolation and 96 in quarantine. Those are relatively low numbers when you have 6,200 students plus faculty and staff,” said Swallows. 

Students who are in isolation have tested positive for the virus. Students in quarantine were within six feet of someone who has tested positive for over 15 minutes. Swallows pointed out the quarantine guidelines are set by the Tennessee Department of Health, not the school system. Students who are in quarantine are required to do so for 14 days.

“Our goal has always been to have students in school five days a week in a traditional environment and that’s what we’re working toward but we have to continue to do the things we’ve asked you to do,” Swallows said.

Swallows credited the low number of positive cases to the efforts put forth by the students but warned against complacency.

“We have built positive momentum and we cannot let our guard down. We have to continue to be diligent in this process,” Swallows said.

“Be distanced, wear your masks, and practice healthy habits so we can return to a traditional school environment as soon as we possibly can.”

The School Board will discuss how to proceed after fall break during this month’s board meeting set for Sept 22.